Gutenberg is not my friend

originally posted May 30, 2020; 
May 2021: reformatted; no text revisions to date— 

As I have probably mentioned elsewhere, I am no expert to web designing (I create just a couple of sites each year); I am a self-taught, mid-level, occasional but longtime webmaster of small to medium sites for small businesses and nonprofits. My specialty actually lies with helping to map out and create text for websites and to assist with blogging efforts.

Nonetheless, I’ve come to believe, over the past couple of months, that WordPress is no longer intended for novices or occasional website designers—as was once among its stated goals. And, that’s from an early proponent of the content management system, which I understand recently celebrated a seventeenth anniversary. Several aggrevations are at the root of this statement, though these top my list:

  • First of all, in general, I feel that Gutenberg, the new and supposedly “improved” user interface for WordPress, is NOT intuitive—at all. Even though the CMS, in use since WordPress 5.0 was released in December 2018, has been widely touted as the best thing since sliced bread and toilet paper, I don’t see it as a friend to beginning or intermediate users. Combined with the built-in TwentyTwenty theme, which doesn’t seem to do anything, it certainly was no friend of mine!
  • Second, I don’t really see how it is a better solution for professional developers, either. No longer can you easily reproduce code in bulk, to copy and paste sections from page to page; no longer can you readily shift content from one place to another; and no longer can you conveniently experiment with appearance, then revert back to a look that you may have liked better earlier.
  • Third, the “fun” of HTML and coding is gone. I guess that is part of the point, but, just like a manual transmission makes driving fun, I always enjoyed piecing together the parts of a puzzle and trying to find what was broken and what could be reworked with just a few bits of bracketed text. Now, it’s like fighting a photocopier that thinks it is smarter than you are!

So, contrary to a vast and overwhelming majority of pundants, I am not a fan: out of the dozens of websites I have created from scratch over the years (including parts of four generations of my own), this one was by far the most difficult and frustrating—and not, as I had planned, because I needed to learn what I was expecting to be a somewhat new system, but because I came to think the new interface was largely illogical, unnecessarily sophisticated, ridiculously complex, and plain user-unfriendly.

That said, after this journey with the block editor, I may look at alternatives (like any exist) or try using the legacy classic editor (though that will only be supported, if I understand correctly, for a certain time period). Or, I’ll just stick to planning and organizing and helping to write content—and leave the designing to others. A few additional random thoughts about discoveries I made while rebuilding this site:

  • Security is way more strict than the last site I put together for anEditor’s Blog, and that affected installation of post and email distribution systems, creation of contact forms, and even the addition of login panels.
  • And, finally, the installation of SSL certificates (https vs. http) still throws me for a loop, even after going through the process with three different providers and hosting companies the past few years.

In the end, here’s hoping that Gutenberg and I become better acquainted—or that viable alternatives do exist!

Stephen, the-freelance-editor,
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image information: Featured image, via a post, “WordPress 5.0 and Gutenberg: Get your content ready,” dated November 20, 2018, at